Although it’s been more than a year since the Japanese release of Monster Hunter 4 – and a month since Ultimate’s JP launch – many fans outside of the land of the rising sun might still be in the dark on the finer details the game has to offer.
From new monsters and weapons to unfamiliar locales and game mechanics, MH4U is shaping up to be one of the fullest Monster Hunter experiences Capcom has ever been able to muster up. That says a lot when you consider the average player can put in a couple hundred hours and not even scratch the surface of a typical Monster Hunter title.
The following is a list of all the changes hunters should expect to see when they fire up Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for the first time:
1. No Swimming!
Whether you’re like me and rejoice at the mere murmur of this news, or you’re an avid swimmer in MHTri and MH3, the fact of the matter is that underwater battling and swimming are gone. This means that many of the franchise’s aquatic monsters have been cut from the game. So long, Gobul – you won’t be missed!
With the departure of aquatic combat, Capcom has created another gameplay option to fill its place. Jumping can be done by sprinting off of elevated areas, much like in previous games. However, instead of using this technique as a means of quick travel, jumping can also be used in an offensive way. When a hunter jumps, they can attack at the peak of their trajectory; making it not only possible to slash at creatures while airborne, but also to mount the beast and deal extra damage as well. When riding a monster, hunters will have to obey the command of a bar indicated on the screen. Successful use of this technique results in damage and leaves an enemy vulnerable, while failing will mean that the hunter is tossed to the side.
Hunters can also hop in all directions while climbing to make evasion a viable option, while scaling walls as monsters will be more prone to attacking ascending players. Attacking while climbing is also a new addition to the game and will afford yet another precious tool to the ever-expanding arsenal of Monster Hunters.
3. The Big, Bad Monsters!
Without getting too specific and spoiling the surpise, there are quite a few new monsters coming to MH4U, as well as some returning veterans. Not only are there new monsters to look forward to, but there’s also a few new types of creatures to get excited about. Players of previous games will already know that many of the monsters look like dragons/wyverns; four legs, scaly bodies, fierce eyes and a roar that will have you clutching your ears. In MH4 and MH4U, Capcom have added variety with the inclusion of a frog, shark and snake monster to name just a few. These baddies give experienced players a fresh face to look at, while expanding the already diverse universe the developer captivated the world with years ago on the PS2.
The only downside is that some familiar faces have been removed. The Nargacuga, Lagiacrus and Barroth are just a few of the monsters that don’t make their return in MH4U.
4. New Weapons!
Two new weapons make their debut on MH4, giving hunters a fresh take on slaying.
The Insect Glaive is for all of you who like to show off a bit and can be best described as having the reach of the long sword, with a few extras tricks up its sleeve. First off, the device comes packaged with a cool little insect (or Kinsect as the game calls it) that can be ordered to sap power from specific parts of a monster. When the insect saps the monster three times, the hunter will then be granted a buff similar to those associated with the hunting horn – but on a simpler scale.
Four colors of energy (white, red, orange and green) represent different buffs and the combination of each result in various power-ups. This allows a keen hunter any type of boost he/she is capable of achieving, thus creating multiple strategies within the same weapon. For example, if you have an armor set that calls for a very “in-your-face” approach, a defense buff might make the difference between dying in three hits or four – a huge difference in a game with such a huge learning curve. The cherry on top is the Insect Glaive’s ability to propel a hunter in the air. This grants players using the weapon the ability to manually jump in the air – an option that has both offensive and defensive purposes. Plus, it just looks super cool, and we all know that’s the biggest reason to use it.
Meanwhile, a Charge Blade wielder harnesses the power of two weapons, as the charge blade is a hybrid of the sword and shield as well as the Switch Axe. This device runs on an energy system similar to the Switch Axe and charges by scoring hits with the weapons sword and shield mode. When it’s at full power, the weapon can unleash a powerful finisher, reminiscent of the Gunlance’s wyvern fire. The sword and shield mode, like the weapon it’s named after, allows for constant but safe attacks that chain together in rapid succession.
However, this safety comes at the cost of range and power, as axe mode boasts better stats in both categories. This leaves skilled Charge Blade users precisely switching between the two forms when the situation allows and when the reward outweighs the risk. The weapon also pairs up well with hammer users as the Charge Blade also has the ability to deal significant stun damage, which can momentarily knock out monsters and leave them susceptible to precision attacks.
The Charge Blade also comes in two variations; Explosive and Elemental. Explosive Charge Blades deal more stun and overall damage while the Elemental type more efficiently hits monsters with status effects like sleep, poison and paralysis.
5. The Frenzy Virus!
Capcom is no stranger to adding in dangerous, life-changing viruses to their games (okay, so maybe just Resident Evil) and the new Monster Hunter is no exception. A new foe holds the key to this insidious ailment and spreads the disease to both monsters and hunters alike. The only catch is that monsters have much more to gain from the ailment. When a beast with the sickness falls in battle they are granted a second wind. Symptoms of the frenzy virus include dark coloration, being in a constant state of relentless rage and having the ability to pass on the virus to careless hunters.
When affected by the virus, a hunter takes full damage from creatures and be unable to regain the red bar that comes from damage taken. However, if an infected hunter manages to barrage the animal responsible before it has enough time to fully form (indicated by a bar under the hunter’s name), they are granted a 10% affinity boost, resulting in the hunter scoring critical strikes. While the virus doesn’t play a role in every mission, the constant threat gives players of all skill levels an increased sense of excitement and heightened challenge.
6. Revamped Free Hunt!
Free hunts have been around for two generations and have been given an enhanced purpose with the release of MH4U. Maps are now randomized to create a unique experience every time the player ventures out of the safety of the village. This addition marks the first time the series has allowed random map generation; veterans will be sure to take note, as farming materials in the same map layouts made hunting feel like an endless cycle of uniformity.
Monsters in this mode also have a chance of dropping guild quests that can result in unique equipment. This equipment can also be found within free hunts and has randomized properties such as increased gem slots, passive abilities and higher attack power. This ultimately makes free hunting a new adventure each time, with varying results. By the sounds of it, the gear obtained here will keep hunters searching for the perfect piece in much the same way as charm hunting did in previous titles.
It’s worth noting that MH4U is currently only slated for a release on the 3DS. While this does limit players who don’t own the console, it will not interfere with online hunting, as MH4U will give gamers the ability to team up via wifi. Of course, local hunting will still be an option for those of you out there who meet up with friends to spend countless hours bashing baddies and attaining the highest hunter rank.
8. Cats are Back!
MH4U is bringing back our furry friends, the Felynes, in a big way as the cats can now drive around in tanks. Cats are still be able to wear armor and use weapons, but also come equipped with cute, new costumes and, again, are able to do battle with monsters in freaking tanks! The vehicles can be used to deal increased damage to monsters and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. This means that the whimsical tribal duo Cha-Cha and Kayamba will be no more. Let’s face it though, if the internet has taught us anything, it’s that everything’s better with cats!
Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until 2015 to watch your cannon-firing kitties as MH4U is set to release in Europe and North America early next year. Until then, happy hunting!